So. ‘sup. How you been?
Been busy, myself. I know I’ve been away for a bit here. But it’s not because I haven’t had anything to post. Really. I’ve actually been writing a bit too well: Chapter 4 of the “thing that I’m not calling it what it is yet” is absolutely cranking, so much so that I’m over 4k words in, and haven’t even gotten to the ambush yet. So, can’t post that until it’s done, which might be another week or so at least.
And while I’ve been doing that, I all of a sudden up and went and wrote a story, over 7.5k words, which makes it the longest “short” story that I’ve ever done, and that one just sorta popped out…
I won’t be posting it in full up here just yet. I think it might have some legs to it, so I’m going to pretty it up and send it out to the wilds. Should it wander and not find a proper home, I’ll of course welcome it back here with open arms, but for now…well, I guess I could share a little of it. Since you’ve been nice.
Talk to you soon.
The salt crust, hard and brittle under his feet. When he started off, he could feel every grain with the soles of his feet, breaking apart as he passed, but now, after so many miles, his feet are numb. He at least has it easier than the men—their weight breaks through the crust, to the sucking mud underneath, while he is slight enough to walk upon the surface, as long as he does not follow in their footsteps.
His name is Samal, which means both Eagle and The Hunter in the holy language of his people, which only the tribal leaders are allowed to use now, and this is the first time he’s been this far from home without his father and his father’s guard. The men before him were selected by lottery, chosen by chance, to bear witness to this rite. In the front is Aga-Narim, his father’s horse-lord, and they follow him, through the salt plains, to the steppes beyond.
The sun is a weight overhead, but there is a bitter wind sweeping down from the steppes that brings chills instead of cooling relief. There are no oasis here, none this far east from his father’s camp. There will likely be some water to be found once they leave the plains behind, but they plan and rely upon only what they can carry. Samal’s skin is heavy, slung diagonal across his chest, the water inside resettled so the leather bites at his shoulder and presses at his hip. There is pain, and the faint wet salt of blood in his mouth from broken lips, dried from the dry salt air blowing around him. And this is good. This he can do, this he can survive. With this he can prove himself, again. Every step is proof, a victory over the barrier between this moment and the next. He wishes his path was even harder, like the men he follows, the better to survive each moment of pain, but he will not walk in their footsteps, will not fabricate a challenge that would not otherwise be there. He did not ask to accompany Aga-Narim on this journey, would not have insisted on it; his father drew his own lots, to see which of his family would bear witness, and Samal’s name was pulled out. Which is as it should be.